Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Year of Giving

365 Days of Giving, aka Project 365, was one of my early morning “crazy” ideas (it might be a good thing that I don’t have too many of these!). Without much planning, or much insight into what it would actually take to accomplish, I set off on my journey of giving. There was a lot of doubt initially on whether or not it was feasible with a full-time job that requires traveling, an active social and family life, and the responsibilities of home. But I took it day by day and got creative in fulfilling each day’s commitment. 

The blog outlines how each day of the Project went but the Project did so much more! I knew I wanted to get my family and friends involved to show them that giving can be easy and simple, and lots of fun. They amazed me, not just with the amount of support they gave me, but with how involved they became in the Project. There were times when I thought I was going to have to skip a day and they came in with their encouragement and support to make sure that didn’t happen. They committed to days and events and joined me at many service projects. Some of them gave back for the first time, some gave back more than they ever have, and all of them had a great time giving back. There aren’t enough ways or words to express my gratitude towards everyone who helped out. I’m truly humbled by all that you’ve all done for Project 365 – THANK YOU!!

To all the service projects I was able to join this year – THANK YOU! You are all making a positive impact on our community and it takes a lot to go from randomly helping out to committing to helping out by setting up organizations to do just that! While each of these organizations had their own unique goal for making a difference, as a volunteer I got to see the widespread effect of these many organizations. The people behind these organizations are inspirational and they make it so easy to go out and give back.

Even though this Project was all about giving I feel like I got the most out of it. I learned a lot about myself. Helping people has always been something I’ve done, but not at the level of this Project and not in the many ways that this Project has allowed me to help. I learned that once I set my mind to accomplish something there’s really nothing that will stop me from reaching that goal. I learned that compassion for others and caring about others can be shown in many ways and I’m so grateful that it is something that feels natural to me. Everyone knows that smiling is contagious, but I really saw the impact of a smile this year and the difference it can make in another person’s day. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m the quiet one but this Project helped me open up to so many different people in a way that I don’t think I’ve ever done before.  I’ve made many new friends and I think most of them will be lifelong friends. I’ve learned that we can become really creative in our efforts to give back and make a difference, and that no idea is a bad idea if you keep in mind the people you are helping. I’ve learned that my greatest joy comes from giving to others, whether it’s listening to their stories or meeting their needs. 

What next? Even though the Project is over giving back has become a constant in my life, I don’t think I can stop now! I will continue to volunteer with some of the organizations I’ve helped out at so far, and will continue to find new organizations and more ways to give back. I won’t be writing a daily blog anymore but maybe I’ll write a monthly blog instead. To the wonderful supporters who read the blog – THANK YOU!! I didn’t expect all this support but I am so grateful for it and hope that you’ve found some ways to make a difference in your community (and I’d love to hear about how you’re making a difference!).

I started 2011 with one goal in mind – to give back every day. Now, 365 days later, I’ve completed this goal and have discovered that giving is a passion for me. It’s not something that you do for the applause and attention; it’s something you do because you want to, because it’s from the heart.